Twenty one-year-old Adepoju Peace was one of the female first class graduates from the Civil Engineering Department of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, in the 2013/2014 academic session having finished with a 4.54 CGPA. In this interview, she tells TUNDE AJAJA of the PUNCH about her experience in school
Some people feel majority of women would naturally not apply to study an engineering course, what attracted you to it?
That was one of the major motivations for choosing the course. I don’t believe there are certain courses exclusively for men. So, I have always wanted to be an engineer and that was what I applied to study, even though it didn’t really fascinate me until I got to SS2. Interestingly, my dream as a child was to be a doctor because my mum is one but the dream changed when I realised that I didn’t like Biology and I did better in Physics and Mathematics. My parents were supportive of whatever choice I made. Their encouragement helped a lot.
Why did you choose to study Civil Engineering and not any other field of engineering?
I loved Maths and Physics right from the beginning. Maths was my best subject and Technical Drawing was a subject I also enjoyed doing. So, putting all those together made me go for civil engineering. But of course, I later realised that civil engineering wasn’t just about Mathematics and Technical Drawing, nevertheless, it was a good choice for me.
How easy was it to graduate with a first class?
It was stressful. It required devoting a lot of time to your studies and having to forgo certain things that would have been interesting. It was by God’s grace, divine strength and good health. His grace was constantly sufficient for me. Also, it didn’t come as a surprise because right from my first day in 100L, I made up my mind to graduate with a first class, behave well in school and make my parents proud of me. So that was a target I set for myself and I worked towards it. Like I said, it was stressful and it also involved a lot of mind stress. Now, it feels good and fulfilling. The joy of having achieved a major goal in life knows no bounds.
You mentioned taking some decisions that helped you in your studies, did anyone or anything influence such?
Yes, I had a long talk about setting goals with my first roommate during my first night in school, which played a great role in making that decision. She was also a fresh student but the talk was an extensive one that bore fruits. Then, my background made it easy for me to adapt to all the rules and regulations in school and it helped me to be focused on my studies. I wasn’t going to disappoint my parents or the entire family.
Are you a genius or you were a product of hard work?
I am a product of God’s grace and hard work. I had a goal that I had set for myself since 100 L, so I didn’t need promptings to take my studies seriously. Beyond hard work, I did a lot of overnight reading, getting extra textbooks to have better understanding on each course aside the lecture notes, having tutorials and reading every part of the course many times over.
How would you rate your performance in your previous schools?
I wasn’t a serious student in my junior secondary school. I took things just as they came and my results were, expectedly, on the average, maybe a little above the general average but I had to change friends when I got to the senior class. Incidentally, I had the worst result among my friends at the end of the 1st term in SS1. That was the wake-up call for me, so I had to change friends. Since then, things changed for better for me and I became serious with my studies. I wrote my 0’level and UME in one sitting. Thank God I changed my friends early enough because that decision helped me till date.
What is your reaction to people’s belief about engineering being a very difficult course?
Good knowledge of Mathematics is key in engineering but not necessarily for drawing because I think it depends on the aspect of engineering one wants to go into. Personally, I don’t think the notion that engineering is hard is true, it depends on individuals. I think it is essential to find one’s area of strength, and keep to what works for individuals.
When did you start having First Class?
It started in my 100 Level. I had 4.68, in spite of the fact that I resumed late and I had a lot of catching up to do in terms of lecture notes, assignments, schoolwork and reading. But I thank God. In 200 Level, I had some challenges and my CGPA dropped to about 4.3. I had to struggle to get back on course, and that struggling didn’t yield the expected result until my 400 Level second semester. I had to work extremely hard for my last two semesters in 500 Level to avoid dropping again. Nothing good comes easy.
Many engineering classes are usually filled with men, was it the same in your case?
Yes, we had more guys than ladies in my class. We had just 11 females and about 70 guys. In fact, it was a ratio of about seven guys to a lady when I was in 100 Level. Such ratio and imbalance could sound scary but, interestingly, it went just fine. There was no intimidation at all.
What was your typical day like as an undergraduate?
My movement revolved around class, cafeteria and then hostel. I slept for about six hours daily and I set two hours aside for studying and the two hours were outside my lectures. Furthermore, I set daily targets for myself, especially for assignments. However, I was involved in some other school activities. I was a member of the choir and I became the welfare secretary for my department in 300 Level. So, I had a life apart from reading. In fact, I used to hang out with friends occasionally but I remained focused.
How often did you use the library?
Personally, I didn’t like reading in the library because it was too quiet for me, so what I did, usually, was to go and borrow textbooks and take to my room or my department to read. I enjoyed reading very early in the morning immediately I woke up from sleep or in the midnight. Exam period was different though because the only schedule I had was reading. After each paper, I would go back to my hostel to pray and thank God for the paper, eat, sleep for about two hours and start reading again. Most times I would read overnight. Thank God those efforts produced results.
What challenge(s) did you face in school?
The main challenge I had was how to overcome the urge of always desiring to watch movies. So, I spent my leisure watching movies.
Considering your age, how did you handle peer pressure from friends?
The main thing is to be focused, once that is settled, every other thing that is not leading to my goal barely mattered. I had friends, including males but I ignored some in situations when I had to, and nobody took advantage of my age, not to my face anyway.
What was your happiest moment?
When results for second semester 400 Level came out and I made it back to first class. It was a day to remember.
What are your future plans and aspirations?
I would like to have a Masters degree in structures and hydraulics, then have my own firm. I specialised in structures in my final year and my project was on it, so I would like to work in a reputable construction company.